At the beginning of your adventure through the Dragon’s Dogma demo, you are remindedthat this is merely a demo, an unfinished product. From the time I spent with it, that just excites me more. Unfinished product or not, it has been a long while since I have had this much fun in a demo. From customizing my character and pawn (which was quite extensive for a demo, or any game for that matter), to rushing through a dungeon slaying goblins with the solid combat mechanics, this demo did exactly what it was meant to do: get me excited for the full release of Dragon’s Dogma.
You’re presented with three options when you boot up the demo — taking on a prologue quest, a quest in the fields, or customize your character and pawn, who acts as your partner in battle. Since you’re given a specific pre-built character for each of the two quests, creating your own character won’t make any difference for the demo. However, you’ll be able to carry them over to the full game once it is released, an option that I took advantage of. The real enjoyment, though, is in the quests.
The prologue quest throws you right into the action with a sword and a shield. You have a partner that beckons you to follow him through the dank, dark depths of a massive dungeon. The environment is impressive right off the bat. The area is dark around you and you need a lantern to see where you are going. The grey and white walls around you are all falling apart and debris is littered throughout your path. I encountered a few goblins pretty quickly, which was made even more apparent by my partners yelling “Goblins!” every time he spotted one. The combat felt very satisfying and brutal; each hit had impact behind it that I could feel, and stringing combos together with my several special attacks was a breeze.
Eventually we came upon a stone that let me summon a couple more pawns, each with their own special skills. More companions make combat a lot easier while adding a lot more variety to what your team could throw at the enemy. However, you friends certainly like to shout the same phrases, both in and out of battle, over and over and over again, which is a little annoying. Several companions also seemed to clog up the screen with so much action happening all at once. I never experienced any slowdown, it simply made it a little difficult to see what was going on when fighting the common fodder.
This was not a problem when the first boss shows up, as a huge chimera swooped down and made short work of a few followers. It’s here where Dragon’s Dogma truly shines. The chimera had a snake for a tail and two heads, one a goat and the other a lion. The snake spit acid and the other heads could put you to sleep, not to mention that the abomination could just jump at you and knock you for a loop. I used my special upward slash on the tail as I got behind the beast and directed my pawns to do the same. The snake soon enough came off, freeing us of the terrible acid baths. The next task was a bit harder. In order to kill the beast, I needed to kill the goat head first, which was up on the chimera’s back. I found I could either use the upward slash when the chimera leaned in, or I could go Shadow of the Colossus on it and climb up on top and eviscerate the goat’s head myself; I chose the latter. Soon, after some healing and some slashing, the beast fell and I was taken back to the main menu.
The next quest put you in an open field, controlling a ranger complete with dual blades and archery skills, with several companions already helping you. After you kill a few goblins, which is still messy due to all of the on-screen activity, you face a griffin. This monster flies around, grabbing and scratching at you from the air. Needless to say, my pawns were calling on me to bring it down. Once again I had a couple of options — I could either shoot its wings and bring it down, or I could wait for it to swoop in, time my jump, and let it take me for a ride, then convince it to come down with my two swords. Wanting to see what this game could do, I chose to take him for a ride. Soon enough, the griffin was down and we all poked and prodded him with our swords until he gave up…or died. After that, the demo was done, and I was left longing for so much more.
Dragon’s Dogma offered me a unique experience in adventure games. The boss fights weren’t just about mashing buttons, they were about strategy and choice. Both bosses presented me with different options on how to handle them, and that was just with the class I was assigned. I can only imagine the possibilities when allowed to pick my own class. From the little bit I played, I was very impressed and am very anxious to get my hands on the full version. There are a few headaches such as an over-crowded screen at times and the pawns repeating their annoying dialogue, but those issues never bothered me when I was slashing at a chimera or bringing down a griffin. Hopefully a little last minute polish is applied, but Dragon’s Dogma feels like it’s ready to pull you in for an exciting fantasy adventure.